The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments released today a decree signed on 6 January 2016 by His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the same Congregation, revising the text of the rubrics of the Roman Missal regarding whose feet may be washed during the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. Why it took two weeks to make the decree public is anyone's good guess.
The text of the earlier rubric clearly stated that the feet of viri selecti, which can only be translated as "select men," could be washed. It should be noted that the washing of feet was - and remains - optional; it is not required. Many - at least in the United States of America - took offense to this rubric and violated it each year by washing the feet of women, boys, and (rarely) girls.
The revised text of the rubric now states that the feet of qui selecti sunt, which can be translated as "those chosen," may be washed. Those chosen are to come from the populo Dei, from "the people of God," that is, from among those who have received the grace of Baptism. As the Code of Canon Law states: "Christ's faithful are those who, since they are incorporated into Christ through baptism, are constituted the people of God" (canon 204 § 1).
The decree goes on to say that those chosen may be selected from the following groups within the people of God: "men and women, and conveniently from young and old, healthy and ill, clerics, consecrated [men and women], laity." But you might never know this from the headlines in the Catholic media.
The headline from Crux declares, "Francis changes the rules: Women can have their feet washed on Holy Thursday." What about boys and girls?
The Catholic Herald says, "Pope Francis opens Holy Thursday foot-washing rite to women." What about boys and girls?
The National Catholic Reporter's headline reads, "Pope's decree opens Holy Thursday foot washings to women and girls." What about boys? What is more, it is not a decree from Pope Francis, but from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
America Magazine declares by way of its headline, "Pope Francis opens foot-washing rite to women in gesture of inclusion." What about the inclusion of boys and girls?
[UPDATE: The headline of the Catholic News Agency says, "Women may now have their feet washed at Holy Thursday Mass, Pope says, and that of Zenit says, "Pope decrees that Holy Thursday foot washing ceremony can include women." What about boys and girls? Zenit's lede goes a bid further, saying, "Those chosen should represent the entire people of God: Young and old, healthy and sick," but that simply isn't true. The decree says that those chosen can come from these goups, but it does not say they must or should come from them.]
However, there is one headline that gets it right, that of the National Catholic Register: "Pope changes rules for washing of feet on Holy Thursday."
[UPDATE: The headline of the Catholic News Service also gets it when it says, "Foot-washing ritual not limited to men, Vatican says in new decree." It should not be a surprise that the headline from News.va correctly says "the Pope decrees that not only men may be chosen for the washing of the feet in the Liturgy of Holy Thursday, as does Vatican Radio when it says, "Pope changes Holy Thursday decree to include all people of God."]
The change the Holy Father directed be made to the rubric affects more than just women; it also affects boys and girls. Headline writers would do well to recognize this and reflect it, so as not to mislead the faithful.
Remember: You cannot put too much trust in the media, not even in the Catholic media.